Kids Gift Idea: Melissa & Doug

"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once (s)he grows up." - Pablo Picasso

little-girl-painting melissa-and-doug-easel

She paints picture after picture. Some with stripes. Some with polka dots. Some with one color; some with two; some with more. Each one is unique. Exquisite. Undeniably beautiful.

And every one is designed with someone special in mind.

Her creativity astounds me. Her generosity moves me.

When I watch her, I pray silently that she will always feel this assured, that she will always dream the biggest of dreams. I pray that her imagination will always be this vivid and her life this full of colors.

When she describes her finished pieces with grand gestures and animated expressions, she thinks that I am amazed by her paintings (and I am), but what really impresses me is...her. SHE is the real masterpiece.


In these photos - products by Melissa & Doug

tabletop easel melissa & dougTabletop Easel (~$39.99)

This brightly colored wooden easel features a chalkboard on one side and a dry erase board on the other. An ample storage tray is convenient for placing paintbrushes, erasers, chalk, and paint cups when not in use. We used a large binder clip to hold up a piece of paper for easy upright painting (the four accompanying magnets are pretty much worthless and do not effectively hold the paper up as they should). ALSO: The screws don't fit just right and protrude awkwardly.

My overall synopsis of this product is that it is flawed in design, but it is a fantastic concept. With a few slight adjustments, this easel would be a top-rate addition to any child's playroom or creating space. Even in its current state, we use it every single day and we think it's fabulous (so much better than painting on a flat surface!).

NOTE: The Tabletop Easel is currently on backorder, but should be available on Melissa & Doug's website shortly...

easel companion set melissa & dougEasel Companion Set ($34.99)

The title of this set is a bit misleading because it implies that you must have the easel, but the truth is that it is also ideal as a "stand-alone" gift.

It comes with:

  • Four 8-ounce bottles of poster paint (Great quality! I think I'd like to buy refills of this thick and vibrant paint that washes off skin with ease.)
  • Four spill-proof paint cups (These are the BEST part of the set - hands-down. They're brilliantly designed with colorful lids, brush holders, and snap-on lids to keep paint fresh.)
  • Four medium-sized brushes (Easy-to-hold and nice to look at - these are *not* your cheap-o dollar store brushes.)
  • A Roll of easel paper
  • 10-pack of jumbo rainbow chalk
  • An eraser
  • A dry erase marker

This is an excellent gift choice for any little artist - with or without the easel.

artist's smockArtist's Smock ($9.99)

Worried about stains and smudges? Place this super fun, stripedy (yes, I've been reading too many books starring Tigger lately...) smock over your child's clothes and you can rest easy. The smock is easy-to-clean and has a little square on the chest where you can add your child's name. The adjustable straps make it a one-size-fits-all garment so that you can stretch your dollars and use the same apron from preschool through elementary.

melissa & doug logoWIN IT! One winner will receive a Tabletop Easel (~$39.99), an Easel Companion Set ($34.99), and an Artist's Smock ($9.99) from Melissa & Doug. To enter, leave any topic-related comment on this post prior to Sunday, December 27th at 11:59 p.m. (Don’t forget to follow the rules…all generic comments like “Enter me!,” “Love it,” and “Cool stuff!” will be disqualified.).

FOR A SECOND ENTRY: Blog or Tweet about my Christmas Gift Guide (or about this giveaway)…and leave a second comment telling me that you did.

* I received product samples for review purposes.

*UPDATE* The winner is #27 Abbi. Congratulations!

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218 comments on “Kids Gift Idea: Melissa & Doug”

  1. I have two little girls that could quite possibly spend an entire day painting and coloring! My three year old loves to paint. She takes her time and uses different brushed, never overlooking even the simplest of details. My 18 month old on the other hand digs her brush into the paint, splashes it all over and has the time of her life swirling colors on the paper. Melissa and Doug have incredible products for children!

  2. Messy? I babysat and found out how my gifts worked out for the grand families. Another mess making gift will be well appreciated.

  3. My grand-daughter is an budding artist. She will love this, but I'm not to sure about my daughter - Oh well, that what grand-ma's are for.

  4. Art is great therapy and a wonderful creative outlet for children and adults alike. This looks like a fun art set for children.

  5. My little granddaughter loves to paint and this would be great for her. I love the little smock, too. Thanks for having the contest!

  6. This would be perfect for my niece. She really loves drawing and painting. She is actually very talented and really takes her time working on her creations. She gets so involved and it is really nice to see her developing her talent! Thanks!

    sherri419 at gmail dot com

  7. I should not be tearing up when I read blog entries. That was very moving, and really makes me appreciate (not all the time, mind you) the energy that my own little masterpiece uses throughout the day. For Christmas, I got her a drawing set that teaches how to draw animals. I'm going to see if we can work on that. If I win, she can work on painting them, too. Er...not them, specifically. Yeah...

  8. You're right, our kids are the masterpieces. I haven't tried my hand at letting my son paint just yet but this sounds great despite the minor flaws in the easel. Thanks!

  9. My kids LOVE to paint! Our easel is old and the part that holds the paint is broken. :( A new one would definitely add to our fun at home!

  10. this is such a great little setup for creative minds when your child makes you a picture it is more precious than any gift bought in a store..that is always the way i felt :)

  11. I love the Melissa & Doug site and all the products they have. Everything you are giving away would be awesome for my little guy, the mini Picasso of the house.

  12. i love that parents are contiuning to introduce art forms to their children. Its so important that kids use their imagination. My little girl would love this

  13. I can honestly say, without hesitating, Melissa & Doug is at the TOP of our list! We have MANY of their products.

    My Daughter is REALLY into painting, and anything Art really, she would have a BLAST with this giveaway! We already have the Watercolor sets, brushes, and Paper and use them ALMOST DAILY!

    I (I mean WE, lol) would be extremely excited if we should be chosen for this AWESOME giveaway!

    Huge Thanks to Melissa & Doug and Metropolitan Mama~ Jes

  14. I too am amazed by the talents and creativity of the little ones. I have been teaching Sunday school and we have been doing crafts some of the crafts the kids do look better than mine. It is a wonderful time of the year for crafts. Right now it is just too cold outside for the kids.

  15. I love Melissa & Doug products. I have entered to win many of their products such as the lemonade stand. I am so impressed with the variety of toy that they have and the selection as well. I know my 2 year old would love this product as well. She loves art and drawing.

    Jeanette Huston

  16. These look like great items for little ones to create their works of art on. Melissa and Doug toys are new to me but look like a neat company.

  17. I love melissa and doug toys, but have never tried any of their art items but that art smock could come in very handy with my three year old who wants to finger paint all the time.

  18. Wow that would be fun for my son and daughter. My kids like to be creative but never were into crayons. they like different medias and paint is one of them besides clay, playdoh, salt dough, the cool whip in a plastic bag with food coloring, etc.

  19. Ah, Melissa and Doug is the best! This art prize would be perfect for our little girl because she really is into art-just like her Mommy! I know her eyes would light up like crazy if I won this for her!

    Great idea for a wonderful giveaway! Thank you.

  20. We love Melissa and Doug! My daughter would go crazy for the easel, she loves to paint! I love that it looks easy enough to have her clean it up lol!

  21. Melissa and Doug products are the best. They are so durable and creative. My girls love to paint. This would be an awesome sturdy gift.
    Great giveaway

  22. I love Melissa & Doug products - very high quality, and its nice to see toys that don't have characters from TV shows and movies plastered all over them. Thanks!

  23. My granddaughter loves to draw and paint! She makes so many "Masterpieces" for us that I have to take some down and put away for a new one! It is so much fun to look all the drawings as she gets older{She will be 8 the end of Jan}

    Thanks for the chance :-)


  24. When I was around elementary school age I had a set a bit similar to this at home. My Easel was not a table top version but stood on it's own. Table top I think would make it easier and take up less room all around for storage and no tripping over the legs of the easel. It was my favorite thing to use to paint and create on paper. It definately helped me flourish in creativity and I could paint for hours. Also because I am left handed having a surface that is tilted and raised helped me not to smear the work as bad since my hand needn't touch the paper nor bump it when I was painting numbers and letters. I love the quote you used as the opening to the blog, it is so very true! Creaitivity is in all of us..but being adults we now must find time. I definately try to make time for it. I could see my sweet little cousin who is turning 5 in a few days gobbling this up and having so much fun with it.

  25. My son has a very hard time controlling his outbursts, and sometimes the only thing that works is to redirect his behavior towards something that can keep him occupied. Therefore, I always keep puzzles, crafts and building blocks available for him to focus his energy. This would be a great addition to his therapy, and I thank you for the chance to win!

  26. My granddaughter would just love to paint with this Melissa and Doug easel set!! Her Mom is an artist so we have to cultivate her creativity as well!

  27. We love Melissa and Doug products, and have always bought them for our granddaughters. My dh is an artist, as is my daughter, and both of my granddaughters love to create. The oldest, who will turn 7 soon simply "must" paint, draw, cut, glue and create 24/7! She takes art class and was placed in the 10 year old children's class..she's that good! Would love to have this tabletop paint set for my little "almost 3" year old. She just loves color and to paint!

  28. I think art and drawing are such wonderful activities for small children. It teachers creativity and small motor skills and eye hand coordination. Wonderful prize. Thanks.

  29. My 4 year old granddaughter loves to draw & paint. This would be great to get her set up & feel like shes special.

  30. my daughter loves to draw color and paint she would absolutely LOVE me forever if I won this for her. Being Melissa and Doug I know it would be great quality and last us quite some time.

  31. I love Melissa and Doug toys, and my daughter does too! She loves the band in a box it's her favorite christmas present!

  32. We have quite a few Melissa and Doug products and they are wonderful quality and very well planned toys. This would be a great addition to our collection.

  33. Kids Gift Idea: Melissa & Doug is a great opportunity to get my hands on the best products for children. Melissa and doug is a brand that is dourable and affordable. This set will give freedom of expression to any child who wins (hopefully this one)
    The products are educational but very fun for both mom and baby; I guess that is why so many New york play groups use Melissa and Doug products for all age groups.

  34. My daughter loves to draw and my son is just beginning to learn to color. They would have so much fun with this. Thanks for the chance!

  35. I have been wanting to get this for my twins for about 6 months. I am a stay at home Mom, which I adore. But I just have not been able to afford to get this for them. This would make my year if I win. Good luck to everyone, and have a super New Year.

  36. Melissa & Diug have qyality products, this would be great for my grandson, he loves to draw and color but I don't think he has ever done anything with paints.

  37. Melissa & Doug toys are thew best! I have given their toys to my grandchildren in the past and they love them!
    thanks for the giveaway

  38. Our daughter is becoming quite the little artist. Everyday, she creates a masterpiece for the refrigerator. She loves to color, draw, and paint; and her creativeness is ever expanding.

  39. This would be perfect for my granddaughter Lily. I'm wondering if she has the artistic talent her older two cousins have. They have won ribbons at our county fair for their artwork.

  40. I think this set would be a great gift idea for my little one's birthday, which is right around the corner (time flies, doesn't it?).

  41. My daughter loves to paint. She makes me the most fantastic paintings. It is so great to see how her mind is developing by watching her pictures change. She would definitely love this for her birthday.

  42. My granddaughter Ava loves to draw and paint. Santa brought her some new markers for Christmas. She would love this prize.

  43. Liz and Tristan would play with this easel all the time. It's a great alternative to a regular standing easel because it takes up less space.

  44. My 4 year-old grandson would absolutely love this giveaway. He wants to be an artist when he grows up and loves to draw and paint. Goes through art supplies in a hurry!!

  45. I like the tabletop style. with the other, I feel I need a dedicated space and a drop cloth. I have loved all the Melissa & Doug toys I've seen and purchased. This looks great!

  46. My son loves to paint. This easle and supplies are a perfect size for any type of living space...another fine product with thought by Melissa & Doug.

  47. My youngest niece loves to draw and this would help her increase her artistic talents. She would love learning to paint with this.

  48. I would love this for my daughter she is stuck inside most winter days and this would be a HUGE help in the entertainment area. Olivia loves the Melissa and Doug puzzles she received today.

  49. Aww, your post was so sweet. I love how children seem engrossed when painting. This would be perfect for my budding artist as well. :)

  50. We love Melissa and Doug products, as with so many of their other products - these are wonderful to stimulate creativity and the imagination

  51. I am a musician, and I majored in art and music in college, so I am very much into creative arts for kids. I'd love to win!

  52. ooo - been looking at this for my little guy. He just started loving to paint and this would be a perfect creative outlet for him
    tvollowitz at aol dot com

  53. This would be fantastic for my four year old daughter. She is just at the age of exploring her creative side (she's 4). macd82 at gmail dot com

  54. My 4 year old is painting obsessed - this easel would be great to have inside in the summer. She says she wants to be an artist when she is bigger.

  55. I really love all of the Melissa and Doug toys. The are all nice quality, wood, very few if any plastic parts and they are affordable. We especially love their puzzles.

  56. Arts and Crafts are at the very top of the list of the girls favorite things to do. They could do them all day long. I just wish we had a dedicated art area where they could help themselves and I wouldn't have to create space and clean it up each time.

  57. We love Melissa and Doug toys in our house! The smock and easel would be great for my son since he is getting some paint for Christmas.

  58. We have a bunch of Melissa & Doug puzzles. My duaghter would love this as she LOVES to draw. I might even let her try out paint if she had an apron like this to keep her clean. lol!

  59. Toys like this are definitely worth the investment. Anything that fosters creativity is helpful to the development of their minds and fun for parents to watch!

  60. Both of my little artists would love this. I love the quote at the top of this post. It would be wonderful if they could maintain the level of creativity and keep creating for the sheer joy of it instead of trying to impress other people. I explained to my six year old that not everyone will like what she creates, but it is very important to keep creating what makes her happy and she will be surprised the amount of joy her creations will bring into the world. Another great giveaway Stephanie! ~Lanie

  61. My little artist niece would LOVE this set. She is such a creative kid. Her birthday is coming up, and I might just have to get this if I don't win it !

  62. Everyone knows that Melissa & Doug are so great! These definitely look like items that my daughter would love, the idea of setting her up and letting her imagination go wild - well, that's high on my list of enjoyable things to do.

  63. I would love to win this awesome set for my son. He is creative and currently enrolled in an art class. This set will be a perfect complement to the class.

  64. I love to let my kids paint while they are young. They don't have to worry about staying in the lines and can be free to create whatever they want.

  65. This is so cool. My daughters favorite thing to do is paint - she'd love this. And I love everything Melissa & Doug!!

  66. Melissa & Doug make such great products and this one looks like no exception. I think painting is a great way to get a child's creative juices flowing!

  67. Melissa and Doug products are a huge hit in our household. I have not seen this tabletop easel before. Definitely like the idea...

  68. Paige is just starting to get into the whole coloring. I'd love to see what she'd do with paint. Over Christmas we're going to make some play-doh and I'm sure she'll have a blast with that.

    Melissa and Doug products are just so much fun. Educationally fun!

  69. I never had an easel as a kid, and I was always *so* jealous of my friends who did - it was a big highlight of a visit to a friend's place if we could use the easel!

  70. My son loves to draw and paint, but especially paint. My house is covered with his artwork and I just love how proud he is of each one when it is done.

  71. I would loooove to give this to my son, who, if he's anything like his father, REALLY needs some assistance in the art-field. ;P

  72. I think my 2 year old would love this! I agree with other posts that cleaning up the mess is part of the drawback of breaking out the paints, but this easel and bib might help.

  73. I had a picture of my daughter oainting just like that in one of those "toddler play places". Did not even think I could set it up at home!

  74. My daughter absolutely craves drawing, and draws about 10 pictures EVERY day. She would rather draw than do anything else. It's such a treat to her, and to me. This would be so much fun for her!

  75. My daughter is almost 2 and 1/2 so I think this would be a great gift for my daughter's birthday this coming year. She likes to draw and color right now...basic doodles. By summer, I imagine it would be fun to have this!

  76. Every day after lunch, my older two (5 and 2.5) get free time to do whatever they like. They invariably choose art. My boys LOVE to draw and paint. It's a little odd, since I never really cared for art. Just not a drop of talent for it, I'm afraid.

  77. This easel has been on my list for awhile! I wasn't able to get it for my 3 year old this Christmas because it wasn't in the finances so this would be so great! She has a full size chalk easel we got a year ago from Ikea but its only for a chalkboard! Thanks Stephanie for all the great giveaways!

  78. Wow, this stuff looks great. I love doing crafts with my nieces and nephews and can't wait until our son is old enough too... he's only 9 months now :)

  79. It would be nice to have an easel Jasper could use. Roo is so territorial with hers and, uh, paint is not necessarily a good "sharing" item especially when one kid is a bit more advanced than the other, artistically...

  80. My daughter would be on cloud nine with all of these items! I love for my children to use their imagination in any way possible, and this looks like the perfect solution. Thanks for always bringing up such unique and original items.

  81. My son is getting some paint for Christmas, so an easel and smock would be perfect for him! He likes to color and play with playdough, but we haven't worked with paints much.

  82. My daughter would love a table top easel. The one we have has been relegated to the outside (it's a tall stand up one) due to space issues inside the house and so my little one doesn't use it as much as she would if it were indoors.

  83. We used to have a little table top easel that was nice until it fell apart. We've moved onto floor coloring and outside painting in the summer months. I'd love to have a whole area of our house dedicated to art projects that we could just leave set up but alas, we have not the space.

  84. I've been wondering what to get my almost 2 year old to draw on! Has someone invented a table that you can color & marker up & it cleans away?!

  85. Love Melissa and Doug toys; they are always so imagination-inducing. I'd love to have a tabletop easel because of its convenient size. Holly only gets to paint when she's hanging out with me at her big brother's pre-K class!

  86. I've enjoyed Melissa and Doug toys for years now. I love their quality and feel good about buying them for my kids. I know they are not only made well, but will bring out my children's creativity and will teach them too. Great toys!


  87. We have a little painter in the house too! He would love to have an easel to make his creations a little easier (and maybe neater too?!?)

  88. This is great - it's small enough to pull out and put away as needed. We had to get rid of our last easel because it was so large and we couldn't fit the family around it! Please enter me!!

  89. It's always amazing to see what little hands can create. I love handing my son paint or crayons and seeing what he makes. We love Melissa & Doug products too, so well made.

  90. My little sons love to be creative on their large easel, but this little one would be great to take along to grandmom's house and such! I have been really pleased with Melissa and Doug items that I have purchased over the years, too...and great quote from Picasso!

  91. My daughter is just getting into drawing and art, so this would be great. I love arts and crafts so I'm hoping my kids learn to love art as well!

  92. I love Melissa & Doug products! Their wooden toys are the best. We joke that our son will rebel and be an artist since we are into math & science, but it wont bother me if he does. :)

  93. My daughter is a budding artist, she loves to create. I am so amazed by what she can come up with. The stories behind her work are truly wonderful. I often have to stop myself and say, she is only 2. Definitely wise beyond her years. We love Melissa & Doug products and my daughter would love to have her own Easel.

  94. My little artists draw and/or paint on a daily basis, too. They'd love this! It's always a struggle to decide what to keep and what to toss, too...because they create far more than we can keep, but it's hard letting some of them go.

  95. The Melissa and Doug Company never ceases to amaze me! Their is not one item they have their name on that I don't like. To me, creativity is the essence of childhood. Creativity/Self-Confidence/Love of
    Self and Others is what a child's own expression means to me. Season's Greetings.....Cindi

  96. I'm kind of stingy when it comes to letting my kids paint. Only once in a great while, usually more often in the summertime when they can paint outside. I do love Melissa and Doug products!

  97. My son just started scribbling (while only taking a few bites of crayon in between.) So he is a little young. However, I have a niece who is just the right age.

  98. That is a very cute set. I have some wonderful artists at my house too! We have some Melissa and Doug wooden vegetables. They are very nice quality.

  99. My son has recently shown an interest in painting. He took a trial art class and spent the entire time painting and carefully assessing his work. It was so hard to pull him away! We've been wanting to get him an easel, but they're all so big and we have a small space. This tabletop easel sounds like it would be absolutely perfect! Thanks for the review.

  100. We just love Melissa and Doug products. I am hoping to start doing some easy arts and crafts with my daughter in the new year. This set would be a good way to get started.

  101. What a wonderful set! I LOVE the looks of the non-spill paint cups. Too often I hold back on letting my boys paint because I'm not up for cleaning up the big mess! That would be the perfect solution to keeping me from hampering their creativity.

  102. I love the paint jars with the covers, my early childhood teacher was showing them to the class the other day and I was salivating over them! How many times have my girls dumped paint all over and made a huge mess?! Too many! I love that, at least the ones in my classroom, have the spindley things around the edges to kind of scrape some paint off the brush too so they don't take too much and make a mess as well as the fact that each one has it's own brush that matches the color on the jar! I have to say I am most impressed by these and will be buying some lol.

  103. I think painting is the one great gender neutralizer when it comes to arts and crafts. I know my boys LOVE to do it but we don't get the supplies out near enough. These are very cute...I've never seen these particular Melissa and Doug items!


  104. We really haven't done a lot of painting yet with my three year old daughter, but she does love to color with crayons. I have never heard of this brand of toys/art supplies before, but they sound like a great company. I love that the tabletop easel is small and portable or easy to store. Great review!

  105. The easel companion set is really nice! We don't do painting very often in this house although my son's OT recommended it. Finger painting in the bathtub is tons of fun though.

  106. Melissa and Doug toys have LONG been my favorite... long before my baby was a twinkle in my eye. I love how natural and creative they are.

  107. A beautiful idea for a gift! It is something that can be used over and over and always something new and wonderful to create. I think the gift of art is something so special a parent can give their child!

  108. Thanks for sharing these ideas. I have been looking to find some sort of art set for my daughter, but I haven't found anything that I loved yet. I still am not sure what I think of the easel, but the companion set and cover up seem super nice.

  109. My son isn't as in to arts and crafts as I would hope. I could sit down with a new box of crayons and a coloring book all afternoon. But him? Not so much. He's more a budding musician like his daddy and that's a-OK with me. But I'm still holding out hope that my little Lucy will become my coloring buddy.

  110. It would be wonderful to win this. I was planning on purchasing something similar but didn't know what brand was good.

  111. I feel the same way! My daughter obsessively draws "peoples". She kneels over her big drawing pad and draws giant round faces with eyes, nose, mouth - and always with generous eyebrows and a shock of hair on top. No sooner does she finish one "people", than flips the page over and begins on the next. Her focus fascinates me and I don't know what I'm going to do with the ever-growing pile of finished "peoples" I have!

  112. My daughter loves to create, but I'll admit I'm not encouraging her like I should. I'm just so hesitant about cleaning up the mess that paints would surely make. I should take advantage of warm days and send her outside to release her inner artist.

  113. Melissa & Doug make the most amazing products - we have quite a few of their things. It's so important to encourage art in children - it's such a great outlet for imagination!

    autumn398 @

  114. You made me cry! Yes, what great works of art these little ones are! I love these toys that help them imagine and create.

  115. This gift has been on my wish list for my child for a couple months. We love Melissa & Doug products. My little boy comes from a family of artists on his dad's side. He already amazes me with his coloring. With every piece of art, he MUST use every color available to him. He has a colorful personality and his artwork displays that. His birthday is in January, and I think these art products would be perfect for him.
    I agree completely--even with all the amazing, adorable things our kids do and say, it is truly them--who they are--that is the most amazing masterpiece of all!

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